Family of Man Who Died in Police Custody Demands Answers
FORT GREENE — The family of the Brooklyn man who died in a police holding cell after waiting four hours for an ambulance want to know why he wasn’t given the medical attention he needed.
Angel Cordero, 39, who had a history of seizures, was being held in the 88th Precinct stationhouse after being arrested for attacking a 48-year-old woman at the corner of Myrtle and Carlton avenues at 4 a.m. on the Fourth of July.
Before he was processed, he exhibited signs of distress so police transported him to Woodhull Hospital. He was treated for an undisclosed ailment and released back to police an hour later, sources said.
The next morning, about 1:40 a.m., Cordero again showed signs of distress but this time he was not given medical attention, according to sources.
Police officers called an ambulance, telling EMS that they had a “sick patient,” but were told that there weren’t any ambulances available because of the high number of holiday-related incidents. The cops didn’t think Cordero needed emergency care so they decided to wait, sources said.
At 5:27 a.m., Cordero started to have a massive seizure in the holding cell, according to a police report. Police officers called 911 and reported the emergency but by the time paramedics were dispatched, Cordero had died in the cell, sources said.
Donovan Mendoza, 24, Cordero’s nephew, was one of the first family members to be notified of his death. It wasn’t until he went back to the precinct that officers told him his uncle had died in police custody.
"The officer (at the precinct stationhouse) admitted that it could've been handled better," Mendoza said. "He told me that if something funny during the investigation comes up I should get a lawyer."
Relatives remembered Cordero as a nice man who was extremely dedicated to his son and daughter.
"He was there for his kids, always trying to help them out,” his sister Maribel Taylor, 41, said. “He loved his children, they were his world."
Although he had trouble with alcoholism and had been arrested for non-violent crimes, he was a good man and there is no excuse to deny him basic human care, Taylor said.
"He had a family, he had a heart and a soul like we all do,” Mendoza said. “If it’s within their power to serve and protect why didn't they protect?”
Although the NYPD’s Internal Affairs bureau is investigating the death, City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents Fort Greene, plans to launch her own investigation.
“This case raises troubling issues that need to be investigated and I will offer my resources to help the family,” she said. “There are a lot of questions and I am deeply troubled by the fact that an ambulance did not arrive in an expedient fashion.”
The city’s medical examiner has yet to determine Cordero’s cause of death and is awaiting toxicological test results, a spokesperson said.